Book Review: MaddAddam

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MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood, is the final book in a trilogy which started with Oryx and Crake in 2003 and continued with The Year of the Flood in 2009. All three books tell stories that run in parallel, although each takes the overlapping characters a little further along in time.

MaddAddam focuses on the street-wise Zeb. In telling his story we get the final links in the plot strands that join characters we have been introduced to in the previous books, the MaddAddamites and God’s Gardeners. The survivors from these groups are now living as a small community, trying to eke out an existence following the chaos that Crake unleashed in his attempt to rid the world of the evils of humanity.

The peaceful replacements that he created, the Crakers, play a prominent role in this instalment as do several of the other creatures bioengineered by the gene splicing scientists before the waterless flood. As well as more detailed background we are given a glimpse of how the new world order will develop once the chaos has settled. I found this glimpse the most depressing aspect of the book as it looked rather too familiar. It suggested that the world is condemned to repeat its mistakes from whatever new start, perhaps that is the point which the author wishes to make.

The MaddAddam trilogy tells of a dystopian future that makes for powerful reading because it is so perceptive, detailed and believable. This final part is as compelling and skillfully written as the previous two. Key plot details are first unveiled as simplified stories told each evening to the Crakers. These are biblical in style, the writing of them serving as a spiritual text more than a history. The whole book has an allegorical feel running alongside the tension and action.

It is hard to regret the destruction of the world described, yet I felt sad that the reboot could not offer more hope for the future. I suspect that a happy ever after would not have stood up after all that had gone before. Despite the leaps in science and the many strange creatures, this book comes across as a disturbing possibility.

MaddAddam is clever and readable, neatly concluding a fabulous tale from a master story teller. Questions are answered, loose ends tied and a future suggested. There is doubtless a moral message running through the writing but it does not come across as preaching.

A fast moving, tightly told story with a cast of strong and complex characters; this eagerly anticipated offering from Margaret Atwood, one of my favourite authors, did not disappoint.

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